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Elizabeth Reviews YA (Halloween edition) -- The Monstrumologist

The Monstrumologist

by Rick Yancey


"These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.”

Hopefully just in time for Halloween is this monster-hunting Victorian horror YA novel. It starts with a graverobber calling in the middle of the night that then kicks off a lot of murders of the intensely graphic kind. Full of intriguing characters and creatively terrifying monsters, The Monstrumologist is a dark Victorian-gothic-style YA novel that is sure to turn your stomach at least a little.


  • Good character piece

    • The Monstrumologist is a very cool character, and a pretty complex one, too

    • He has that emotionally-stupid but book-smart egocentric attitude, though he ultimately sticks to his morals. A little mad scientist, a little Holmes, that kind of vein of character.

    • His relationship with Will Henry is a complicated one, which gives them a great dynamic that is really interesting to read

  • Just in time for Halloween, this book is very very gorey. Like, incredibly violent.

    • Blood, guts, dismemberment, oh my!

  • The mystery with the Monstrumologist’s family history and how it ties to his character works well for the book

  • The anthropophagi are really unique and creative monsters, especially with their social structure. And their design is otherworldly and frightening

  • The Victorian mood is just right for a Halloween read, this book captures that gothic horror feel well.


  • The mystery (I won't say exactly what it is in order to avoid spoilers) works well for the Monstrumologist as a character, but as a reveal it seems far-fetched and plot-wise it feels a little unsatisfying.

  • The pacing slows down in the middle a lot, once the monsters get a little on the backburner

  • In my opinion, the usage of the unreliable narrator makes more drama out of the Monstrumologist as a person than he really is. It tries to pull the “is man really the monster” card with him but he just doesn’t have the character to really pull that off. It makes the protagonist seem a bit melodramatic. The doctor isn’t evil, he just has terrible social skills and is antisocial (and had a terrible father).

  • (*minor spoilers for the ending*) The random Jack the Ripper cameo kind of comes out of nowhere. It just seems to be a name drop for name drop’s sake, as well as a hamfisted theme.

  • The attacks are brutal, and the monsters may have a unique design, but they always do the same thing and it loses interest. As terrible as it may sound, you start to get brutal murder desensitization which I don’t think was intended.


Would I recommend this read? If you can handle intense amounts of gore and dismemberment, yes. The Monstrumologist is a fascinating character, the monsters the story describes are unique and intrigue-catching (even monsters other than the main anthropophagi), and the overall mood of the book is nice and spooky for Halloween. While the themes the book tries to tackle aren’t handled that expertly, and they’re a bit hamfisted, for me this didn’t detract from the overall read. If nothing else, I would say read it for Dr Warthorpe. Aptly, the titular monstrumologist really carries the book with his entertaining character.

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